New Consecration Sunday!

Sunday, June 14th is New Consecration Sunday at Good Shepherd! This will mark the culmination of our new annual stewardship campaign. There will be a bountiful luncheon in the Good Shepherd tradition to follow the 10 am service. New Consecration Sunday is a stewardship education program which teaches stewardship from a spiritual perspective rather than from a fund-raising perspective: the emphasis is on the need for individual disciples to Give rather than the church’s need to Receive. This new stewardship program has been adopted and embraced by our Vestry, especially during our transition. When we welcome our new Rector we will have already completed our stewardship program for 2016! What a blessing!  Our guest preacher on New Consecration Sunday will be The Rev. Canon Rob Droste, Canon for Congregational Development and Mission for the Diocese of New Jersey. Stay tuned for more information in the next few weeks.

Transformational Stewardship Temple Talk #2

Transformational Stewardship Temple Talk #2…Stewardship is NOT about Fundraising!

Before we begin, let’s review from last Sunday! Can anyone tell me the most foundational principle of the four foundational principles of Transformational Stewardship?? That’s right…Everything we have…absolutely everything we have comes from God and it belongs to God…we are not OWNERS of the stuff we have…we are STEWARDS!

So, building on that Foundational Principle #1…is Foundational Principle #2…Stewardship is NOT Fundraising. In the old paradigm of Transactional Stewardship…stewardship was all about fundraising…it was about raising the funds required to keep the doors of the church open and the lights on…it was about raising the funds needed to pay the priest’s extraordinary compensation package and the parish assessment to the Diocesan Stewardship, in the old way of thinking was all about fundraising…which is why the annual campaign was usually done in the fall…the time when the annual operating budget was being created. And the question parishioners were asked was, “will you assume your fair share of the responsibility for providing the financial resources to keep the ministry of the church going”. But Transformational Stewardship is the exact opposite way of thinking…Stewardship is N about raising the funds needed to operate the church…stewardship is about growing in your relationship to God and to His Son, Jesus Christ…stewardship, in this new way of thinking, is about your formation and growth in Christian discipleship…it is about the health of your relationship to God.

Let me be clear…there is absolutely nothing wrong with fundraising…every church does it to a greater or lesser degree. But Stewardship is NOT about fundraising. Let me try to explain it this way. Suppose when I come into the office on Tuesday evening (for Bible Study) I find a check on my desk from an anonymous donor for five million dollars (that is a 5 and six zeroes behind it), As a result of this gift, the Church of the Good Shepherd would be set financially for years to come…we would never have to worry about money…we could comfortably live off the interest we would earn each year from investing that money…but we would still need to do an annual stewardship campaign…we would still need to preach/teach about the principles of Transformational Stewardship. Why??? Because stewardship is NOT about fundraising…stewardship is about our growth and our development as disciples of Jesus Christ!

So that is Foundational Principle #2…next week, Foundational Principle #3…

Transformational Stewardship Temple Talk #4

May 2 and 3, 2015

Before we talk about Foundational Principle #4, let’s review what we have presented the last three weeks. The most foundational of the four foundational principles of Transformational astern ship is that everything belongs to God and everything we have comes from God…we are not owners of the things we have we are stewards and a steward is someone who manages and cares for someone else’s property. Foundational principle #2 is that stewardship is Not about Fundraising…it is not about raising the financial resources needed to keep the doors of the church open. Stewardship is about our formation and growth as disciples of Jesus Christ…it is not about the church’s need for money…it is about our need to give. And last week we discussed the third Foundational Principle of Transformational Stewardship which is the idea of Proportional a Giving…that what is important is not the size of our gift, but what are gift reprints in terms of our total wealth…out total assets, and the Widow’s Mite is the best Biblical illustration of Proportional Giving.

So with the three Foundational Principles as a kind of platform, let’s talk about Foundational Principle #4: the idea of First Fruits Giving. This principle is related to Foundational. Principle #3 because both are about “how we give” not about “how much we give”! If you search the scriptures you will see this principle running through both the Old and New Testaments. For me the key verse is Proverbs 3:9…”Honor The Lord from your wealth and from the First Fruits of all your produce, so your barns will be filled with plenty and your vats will overflow with new wine“. The practice of many church people is to pay all the essential hills ( mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, credit card debt, child care, entertainment) and then to calculate their gifts to the church based on what is leftover ( what some describe as discretionary income). This is what I call “Leftover Giving”, and my guess is that if I asked for a show of hands this morning, and if people were totally honest, that many (perhaps most) would acknowledge that this is exactly how they calculate their gifts to the church. BTW, there is a wonderful YouTube video called “My Money” (there is a link to this video on our website). It is a humorous illustration of what so often happens when folks calculate their gifts to the church in this way. First Fruits Giving is an entirely different way of giving our financial gifts to the church. In First Fruits Giving, the first check that is written each month (or week) is the gift to the church (before the mortgage, utilities, car payment, insurance, credit card debt, child care and entertainment). First Fruits Giving is an acknowledgement…a putting into practice Foundational Principle#1…that everything we have comes from God and belongs to God , and therefore. God is entitled to more than just leftovers…God is entitled to the first and the best of what we have to give! A personal testimony…Susan and I have been practicing First Fruits Giving for 37 years (since 1978) and I can honestly say that in all those years we have never experienced significant financial trauma ( we have faced challenges along the way, but we have never deviated from our commitment to practice First Fruits Giving ), and I think that God has honored that commitment, and our desire to get our financial priorities in proper alignment. If I were to share one word of pastoral advice to anyone who is experiencing serious financial difficulties, it would be to begin to practice First Fruits Giving…I promise that it will not only change your financial reality…it will change your life!

So, there they are…the four Foundational Principles of Transformational,Stewardship. If you are interested in learning more about these principles, plan to attend the workshop on Saturday, May 16th from 9:00am until noon!!

Receiving Names: May 2015 Discernment Committee Update

Discernment Committee Announcement from the Chairman
Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3, 2015

My name is Mark Nicolle, and I am the Chair of the Good Shepherd Discernment Committee. We are 17 members of our parish who are conducting the search for our new rector. I want to give you an important update on where we are in this process. As you may have heard before, this kind of discernment process, a search for a new RECTOR, typically lasts about a year, give or take. For our parish this process began in late September of last year. We are 7 months in. AND, we have just reached a significant milestone in the process.

During this past week, we officially entered into a “Receiving Names” status with the Diocese of New Jersey. This means…

  • all the pertinent information about our parish is “out there” in all the appropriate places, and
  • the Office of Transition Ministry at the diocese is starting to collect names and information about prospective candidates.

During the past 7 months, our committee was formed, and has BEEN, in a process of discerning who we are as a parish, and getting that down on paper …what I have been calling the “describe ourselves” phase. Now the “DISCERNMENT” going on has NOT just been on the part of the Discernment Committee, but it has included the following steps along the way…

The first big discernment in this process was on the part of the Vestry who DISCERNED that every parish member who submitted their name to be a part of the committee, 17 people, should be included ON the committee.  THAT is NOT conventional wisdom! That is a LARGE committee!! But I can attest to you, as the person chairing that wild west show, it was absolutely the right thing, I truly believe that the Vestry discerned the will of the Holy Spirit in doing so. And because it is such a caring, wise, mature and invested group of parishioners, it really has NOT been a wild west show.

Next, the Vestry discerned who should be our interim rector, Fr. Dave Snyder.  And that is your vestry batting 1000.

Next, the committee reached out to the parish members, with the assistance of Canon Cecilia Alvarez, who “runs” the Office of Transition Ministry for the Diocese of NJ, to gather information about who we are, what is important to us as a parish. You may have taken part in the wonderful “congregational conversation” held in October.

The Vestry formed a new Website Committee to better support the wonderful work that Maureen Wynkoop continues to do as our Parish Webmaster … and we now have a new and improved website. Rich Harrington has championed this cause, working with Maureen and the new Website Committee and together they have provided an outstanding tool to support the work of the Discernment Committee, and to help make our parish shine in the “E” world.

Meanwhile, during all this time, the Discernment Committee has been busy composing three documents, with the help of many parish members outside of the committee. These three documents include:
1) An OTM Portfolio which goes onto a National Recruiting Data Base (this included the 12 questions for which some of you provided your own thoughts).
2) Second, there is a much smaller, yet similar document that goes onto a more regional recruiting database. (think zip recruiter dot com)
3) And third, as a capstone, it includes a Parish Profile document which has been posted onto our website.

This Parish Profile, which the committee is extremely proud of, is a 9 page document which talks about our parish, our strengths, our challenges, and several features and aspects of our parish that make us who we are. These documents entailed hours of work, discussion, debate and agreement by the committee, and have all been reviewed and approved by the Vestry. All of these documents will also be posted in some “bulletin board” fashion coming very soon to a parish hall near you, to make it easy for you to see “what is out there” about our parish. I would encourage you to go to the website and view the Parish Profile there.

I MUST mention a few names of folks outside the committee who have contributed to all these efforts. First, an extremely talented Jeff Bathurst produced the beautiful parish profile document, compiling all the pictures and written materials from probably 20 different authors and contributors and assimilating it all, beautifully, into ONE VOICE, one fabulous document for people to see on our website. Other folks who have rallied around this committee with their time, talents, thoughts and support,in ADDITION to the families of the committee members themselves, include … Maryanne Charlton (our parish administrator), Len Fedullo, Kelly Lynd, Maureen Wynkoop, Lee Braidwood, Claude Coulson, Fr. Dave, and again, Jeff Bathurst.

What is next? Over the next 4 weeks, while the OTM office at the Diocese collects names of prospective rectors who are interested in our parish, we, the committee, will be receiving a deeper orientation from Canon Alvarez about the “interviewing process.” Our committee will be joining with St. Peter’s Parish in Clarksboro, also in Discernment for a new rector, to attend an Anti-Racism Workshop provided by the Diocese for all parishes going through this discernment process. During this time, we will be planning our approach to reviewing and talking to prospective candidates. We hope to be getting names during the first week of June.

If any of you is aware of someone who might be interested in becoming our new rector, please contact me about getting their name submitted into the process. IF any of you have questions about the process, please contact me, or any member of the Discernment Committee.

Please continue to pray for us!

The committee has been comprised of the following parish members: Roger Baker, Pat Braidwood, Aimee Burgin, Len Clark, Darrin Buono, Becky Goff, Stu Lynd, Elizabeth Nelson, Mark Nicolle, Deb Prieto, Chelsea Richmond, Tom Rigg, Jeff Snodgrass, Christine Southwick, Wayne Szalma, Diane Wall, and Jim Wynkoop